Named for Vjeran Miladinovic Merlinka, a transgender sex worker who was murdered 16 years ago, this festival now proudly showcases dozens of queer and LGBT themed films, including over 100 short films. As Serbia takes steps towards making a safer world for LGBT youth, the Merlinka Festival has become more of a cultural event and source of local pride than an avant-garde film fest. As such, we were more than happy to get a sneak peek at this year’s catalogue.
Gay Chorus Deep South is one of the most timely feeling documentaries in recent years. They as a group are attempting many would consider life threatening and dangerous but they do so with smiling faces and hope in their hearts. The struggle between religion and queerness has always been present but with documentaries like this providing positive and enriching experiences, we can move closer towards global acceptance that can see us all come together.
Released in 2004 and directed by Eytan Fox, Walk on Water follows an Israeli intelligence agent after his wife commits suicide, and his assignment with the grandchildren of Nazi war criminals. Filmed in multiple locations including Israel, Turkey and Germany, the film stars Lior Ashkenazi, and was awarded Best Film, Director and Actor at the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy.
How do you make a documentary about the downfall of a porn star without leaning in to some of the more problematic stereotypes about people in that industry? Tomer Heymann’s fly on the wall examination of Jonathan Agassi manages to be a cautionary tale without ever demonising its subject, or the industry he works in.
Released in 1998 and directed by Ana Kokkinos, Head On explores the life of a confused 19 year-old Greek-Australian grappling with his repressed identity amidst the forces of his immigrant family and their place in urban Melbourne. The film, starring Alex Dimitriades, gained many awards, such as the Grand Jury Award at L.A. Outfest.